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Aerial Tollhouses in Prayer Canons


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#1 Christopher Criswell

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 11:37 PM

Hello everyone,

I'm interested in the prayer-based evidence for the theory of aerial tollhouses. Despite the controversial status of the issue, there seem to be some prayers that support the idea and make specific reference to the tollhouses--which beg the question (at least for me) of the historical context of the prayers. For instance, the prayer at the end of the Canon to the Guardian Angel (Jordanville Prayer Book) states, "And in the terrible hour of death, be not far from me, my good guardian, driving away the demons of darkness, who have the power to terrify my trembling soul; defend me from their net, when I shall pass through the aerial tollhouses..."

I'm not entirely sure, but my research found that this prayer (and perhaps the whole canon) was written by John of Mauropous, a Byzantine hymnographer of the 11th cent. It would be quite enlightening if anyone could share any information to corroborate (or problematize) this. As well, does anyone know of any similar prayers whether from canons or featured liturgically (troparions, etc.) that make such explicit references to the tollhouses or the like?

Many humble thanks,
Christopher

P.S.

I also suppose this may have been asked somewhere, so forgive me, but I couldn't find a thread on the topic that was this direct. Also, my question may spark a debate about how literally we should take these prayers, which, I think, is important.

#2 Father David Moser

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 12:32 AM

the theory of aerial tollhouses. Despite the controversial status of the issue, there seem to be some prayers that support the idea and make specific reference to the tollhouses


First, let me say that there is nothing controversial about the status of the image of the tollhouses - it is a well established image within the Orthodox Church. Only in the past few years has there arisen any "controversy" around the use of such images - and that is more about forwarding a modernist, anti-catholic and protestantizing agenda among some Orthodox "intelligentsia"

Second - there is already and extensive discussion of this issue here in the forum.

Fr David Moser

#3 Christophoros

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 01:13 AM

O Lord, make me to know mine end, and the number of my days. And at the departure of my soul, send guardian angels of peace to protect my wretched soul from demonic attacks, from the exacting toll-houses of the aerial rulers and from the lot of the goats on Thy left. And deliver me from eternal torment, and vouchsafe me to stand at Thy right hand, O just Judge, with all those who from all ages have been pleasing unto Thee, through the prayers of Thy most pure Mother and of all the saints: For blessed are Thou unto ages. Amen.

- Canon to Sweet Jesus, Old Orthodox Prayer Book, first edition, p. 151.

#4 Olga

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 01:34 AM

Interestingly, this verse is not part of the text of this canon, neither in the Jordanville prayerbook, nor in the Greek text of the canon.

#5 Christopher Criswell

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 03:45 AM

Interestingly, this verse is not part of the text of this canon, neither in the Jordanville prayerbook, nor in the Greek text of the canon.


Hm. I'm looking at the fourth revised edition of 1996, and the prayer is certainly in my version as a prayer following the canon​. This page has the prayer posted at the bottom of the page after the canon: http://pomog.org/ind....org/canons.htm

In Russian, this appears to be an accepted Slavonic prayer: "защити мя от тех ловления, егда имам преходити воздушная мытарства." (http://v-xram.narod.ru/angel.html)

It appears that it might follow the akathist to the Guardian Angel rather than (or in addition to) the canon.

Edited by Christopher Criswell, 23 January 2013 - 03:49 AM.
clarification


#6 Christopher Criswell

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 03:48 AM

First, let me say that there is nothing controversial about the status of the image of the tollhouses - it is a well established image within the Orthodox Church. Only in the past few years has there arisen any "controversy" around the use of such images - and that is more about forwarding a modernist, anti-catholic and protestantizing agenda among some Orthodox "intelligentsia"

Second - there is already and extensive discussion of this issue here in the forum.


I see. Thank you, father. I was hoping, however, to get some different perspectives on a very narrow question about the recurrence of these images in specific prayers and canons, rather than the intellectual history behind the idea in the writings of clergy and monastics. But I will peruse the thread!

#7 Olga

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 03:59 AM

Hm. I'm looking at the fourth revised edition of 1996, and the prayer is certainly in my version.


I have the same edition of the Jordanville, and it is in the prayer at the end of the canon to the Guardian Angel, not the canon to Christ. That explains its absence there. I do not have the canon to the Guardian Angel in Greek, it would be interesting to see whether it contains the toll-house reference.

#8 Kosta

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 08:19 AM

Read St. Gregory's dialogues (its either bok 3 or 4) to unnderstand the nature of the demonic vistations and attacks at the 'hour of death'.

#9 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 10:26 AM

There is this:

In both the Greek and Slavonic Euchologion, in the canon for the departure of the soul by St. Andrew , we find in Ode 7:
"All holy angels of the Almighty God, have mercy upon me and save me from all the evil toll-houses."

Likewise, in the Canon of Supplication at the Parting of the Soul in The Great Book of Needs are the following references to the struggle of a soul passing through the toll-houses:
"Count me worthy to pass, unhindered, by the persecutor, the prince of the air, the tyrant, him that stands guard in the dread pathways, and the false accusation of these, as I depart from earth." (Ode 4, p. 77).
"Do thou count me worthy to escape the hordes of bodiless barbarians, and rise through the aerial depths and enter into Heaven…" (Ode 8, p. 81).
"[W]hen I come to die, do thou banish far from me the commander of the bitter toll-gatherers and ruler of the earth…" (Ode 8, p. 81).

In the Octoechos, there are many references to the Toll Houses:
"When my soul is about to be forcibly parted from my body's limbs, then stand by my side and scatter the counsels of my bodiless foes and smash the teeth of those who implacably seek to swallow me down, so that I may pass unhindered through the rulers of darkness who wait in the air, O Bride of God." Octoechos, Tone Two, Friday Vespers
"Pilot my wretched soul, pure Virgin, and have compassion on it, as it slides under a multitude of offences into the deep of destruction; and at the fearful hour of death snatch me from the accusing demons and from every punishment." Ode 6, Tone 1 Midnight Office for Sunday

In the Saturday Midnight Office, the prayer of St. Eustratius, contains the following:
"And now, O Master, let Thy hand shelter me and let Thy mercy descend upon me, for my soul is distracted and pained at its departure from this my wretched and filthy body, lest the evil design of the adversary overtake it and make it stumble into the darkness for the unknown and known sins amassed by me in this life. Be merciful unto me, O Master, and let not my soul see the dark countenances of the evil spirits, but let it be received by Thine Angels bright and shining. Glorify Thy holy name and by Thy might set me before Thy divine judgment seat. When I am being judged, suffer not that the hand of the prince of this world should take hold of me to throw me, a sinner, into the depths of hades, but stand by me and be unto me a savior and mediator..." [5]

#10 Warren Bensinger

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 03:54 PM

Just to add to the list of prayers - I found this one at the end of the "Akathist to the Mother of God "The Inexhaustible Cup"".  It is the second prayer at the end:

 

"...May Thy prayers carry our petitions to the throne of the Almighty.  Cover us and preserve us from the snares and intrigues of the evil one and at the dreadful hour of our death enable us to pass through the trials without stumbling.  By Thy prayers deliver us from eternal condemnation so that Gos's mercy may be upon us unto ages of ages.  Amen".

 

If you would like the start of the prayer I can post that to.



#11 Jason Hunt

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 06:23 PM

I apologize for any repetition:

 

In the Octoechos of St. John Damascene:

 

"In the hour, O Virgin, of my end keep me from the hands of the

demons, and from the judgment, and trials, and terrible torture, and
the bitter toll-houses, and the evil Prince, O Mother of God, and
eternal condemnation (Octoechos, Tone 4, Friday, 8th Ode)

 

Also in the Octoechos, from the Canon for the dead:

 

"When my soul desires to separate its bodily ties and depart from
life, do Thou appear to me, O Mistress, and destroy the councils of
the bodiless enemies, crush their jaws of those who seek to devour me:
that I may without hindrance pass the princes of darkness, standing in
the air, O Bride of God, "(Tone 2, Sat. Ode 9, Tr. 16)

 

In the canon to the Lord Jesus and All-Holy Mother of God, which is
sung at the separation of the soul from the body of every right
believer:

 

"Vouschafe me to pass from the earth unhindered by the Aerial Prince,
the violent one, torturer, keeper of the terrible ways and vain
word-extortionist "(Ode 4, tr. 4).


"Vouschafe me to flee from the barbarian bodiless hosts, to pass the
aerial depths and to arise to the heavens, so that I may forever
glorify Thee, O Mother of God "(Ode. 8, tr. 2).


Canon to the Guardian Angel:


"All my life I have spent much time in vain, now I approach the end: I
pray thee, my keeper, be a protector to me and an undefeated champion,
when I will pass the toll-houses of the ferocious keeper of the
world"(Ode. 9, tr. 3)

 

Prayer after the fourth Kathisma of the Psalter:


"O Lord, grant me tears of compunction ... that with them I will pray
to Thee to be cleansed before my end of every sin: a fearsome and
stern place I must pass, having separated from my body, and a
multitude of dark and inhumane demons will meet me (Psalt. Prayer
after the 4th Kath.).


From the "Office at the Parting of the Soul from the Body" in the Hapgood service book:

 

From Canticle I:

 

"Great terror now imprisoneth my soul, trembling unutterable and
grievous, when forth from the body it must go: Comfort thou it, O
All-undefiled One.


"Glory…

 

"O Refuge renowned for the sinful and contrite, make thy mercy
known upon me, O Pure One, and 'deliver me from the hands of
demons : For many dogs have compassed me about."

 

From Canticle III:

 

"The assembly of the crafty, gaping, have compassed me round about,
and seek to bear me away and bitterly torment me. Crush thou their
jaws and save me, O Pure One."


Canticle IV:

 

"O Conqueror and Tormentor of the fierce Prince of the air, O Guardian
of the dread path, and Searcher of these vain words, help thou me
to pass over unhindered, as I depart from earth."


Canticle VII:

 

"The night of death, gloomy and moonless, hath
overtaken me, still unprepared, sending me forth on that long and dreadful
journey. But let thy mercy accompany me, O Lady."


Canticle VIII:

 

"Vouchsafe that I may escape the hordes of bodiless barbarians, and
rise through the abysses of the air, and enter into heaven ; and I will
glorify thee forever, O holy Birth-giver of God."

 

 

Thomas Sunday, Nocturns, Canon of the Trinity, Ode 6 Theotokion, HTM Pentecostarion p. 71:

 

“Pilot my wretched soul, O pure one, and have compassion upon it, for because of a multitude of offences it is slipping into the pit of perdition, O all-immaculate one; and at the fearful hour of death do thou snatch me away from every torment and from the demons which will accuse me.”


Akathist to St George Final prayer:

 

“He guarded us at our departure from this life from the snares of the evil one and his grievous toll-houses of the air, that we may stand uncondemned before the throne of the Lord of Glory.”


Holy Trinity Monastery, Book of Akathists II: The Inexhaustible Cup:

 

“At the dreadful hour of our departure, help us to pass through the aerial toll houses without stumbling.”

 

Sts Anthony and Theodosius of Kiev Caves:

 

“Even more, at the hour of our death show us thy mighty aid, that through thy supplications to the Lord we may be delivered from the power of the cruel prince of this world and may be vouchsafed to inherit the kingdom of heaven.”

 

St Basil the Great:

 

“And when the time of mine end draweth nigh, do thou, Oh all good father, with the All Blessed Virgin Mary, hasten to mine aid, to defend me from the malicious assaults of the enemy.”


Heiromartyr Cyprian:

 

“At the hour of our death show us thy help against those who will interrogate us in the aerial toll houses: that led by thee, we may attain unto the heavenly Jerusalem.”


Elizabeth the Grand duchess:

 

“Beg the Lord to deliver us from the bitter toll houses and from everlasting torment.”


Holy Apostle and Evengelist Luke:

 

“And at the dread hour of our death stand before us as one who fendeth off the dark visages of the demons and strengtheneth the hope of our salvation.”


Holy Photius the Great:

 

“We may be delivered from the aerial way stations and from everlasting torment.”


Saturday of Cheesefare Week, Matins, Theotokion in 1st Kathisma hymns; Triodion Supplement, p. 58:

 

“We ever give thee thanks and magnify thee, O pure Theotokos; we venerate and praise thy childbearing, O full of grace, and we call upon thee without ceasing: Save us, merciful Virgin, in thy love; deliver us from the fearful scrutiny which we must undergo before the demons, and in the hour of our examination suffer not thy servants to be put to shame.”


Small Compline, A Prayer to the Theotokos by Monk Paul:

 

“And at the time of my departure from this life, care for my wretched soul and drive far away from it the dark forms of evil demons; and in the fearful day of judgment, deliver me from eternal torments, and present me as an heir of the ineffable glory of thy Son and our God.”


Saturday Midnight Office, Prayer of St. Eustratius:

 

”And now, O Master, let Thy hand shelter me, and let Thy mercy come upon me; for my soul is troubled and in distress at its departure from my wretched and defiled body. May the evil counsel of the adversary never overtake it and bind it in darkness through the sins which I have committed in this life, whether in knowledge or in ignorance. Be merciful unto me, O Master, and let not my soul see the dark forms of the evil demons, but may Thy bright and shining Angels receive it. Give glory to Thy holy name, and by Thy might lead me unto Thy divine judgment seat. When I am being judged, may the hand of the prince of this world not seize me and snatch me, a sinner, into the depths of hades; but do Thou stand by me, and be unto me a Savior and Helper, for these present bodily torments are a joy to Thy servants.”


In the Canon to our Sweetest Lord Jesus Christ, in the final prayer we say:

 

“Cleanse me of all sin before the end; for frightful and terrible is the place that I must pass through when I have separated from this body, and a multitude of dark and inhuman demons awaiteth me, and there is no one to come to my help or to deliver me.”


Stichera for the Dead, Tone 2 Friday Evening, Triodion p. 144:

 

“Woe is me! How great a struggle the soul endures at its parting from the body. Woe is me! How many tears it sheds, but there is none to pity it. Turning to the angels, it supplicates in vain; stretching out its hands to men, it finds no one to help. Therefore, my beloved brethren, reflecting on the shortness of our life, let us ask Christ to give rest to the departed and to grant our souls great mercy.”


Prayer for the Assault of Lust, Book of Needs vol. 3, p. 46

 

“For my soul is pursued, my life is trampled down to the ground, and all the night long the toll-keepers assail me.”


Directions for All-Night Vigil for the Departed (Panikhida), Book of Needs 3, p .353

 

“According to the teaching of the Orthodox Church, the soul passes by the dread toll-collectors at that time when the body lies without breath and dead, and therefore is in great need of the help of the Church. Therefore, in order to ease the soul’s passage to another life, immediately after his death over the grace of an Orthodox Christian there is begun prayer concerning the repose of the soul that has fallen asleep …”
 


Edited by Jason Hunt, 29 January 2013 - 06:27 PM.


#12 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 06:17 AM

I am blessed to belong to probably the only Church whose bishops have been bothered to weigh the pros and cons of toll houses in a synodal meeting in 1980.  The minutes record some bishops as pro, some as contra and others preferring not to touch the question.  The upshot was a conciliar Resolution: conjecture, not beneficial to salvation.


The latest development is the English translation of an Arabic book “Beyond Death” due to appear in September.  It is endorsed by the Primate of the Self-Governing Antiochian Church of America.. It assesses the toll house teaching as heretical.


Edited by Hieromonk Ambrose, 14 August 2013 - 06:20 AM.


#13 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 10:11 AM

"It assesses the toll house teaching as heretical." - not at all helpful.



#14 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 12:46 PM

"It assesses the toll house teaching as heretical." - not at all helpful.

 

Andreas, it is helpful to non tollers just as the opposite would be helpful to pro tollers. Non tollers believe the doctrine will be synodally condemned one day.  Until a pan- orthodox decision  it remains in the twilight world of a theologoumenon, able to be accepted or rejected by the faithful.



#15 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 02:37 PM

It is not helpful, I suggest, because it stokes controversy and creates unnecessary difficulties.  There are those who will accept the liturgical and patristic sources set forth in some posts above, and what is said about toll houses by such as Metropolitan Hierotheos and Vassliades in the light of the patristic support they cite.  St Theophan the Recluse sets out in some detail the account of St Theodora and recommends this as an aid to repentance.  Some here clearly do not reject the toll houses. However, the toll houses are not dogma and those of the faithful who leave the teaching about them to one side may do so. For the teaching on toll houses to be declared heretical (by whom and on what authority is a question to be asked) clearly creates problems which are best not caused, and it is preferable to leave things as they are until such time as the whole Church pronounces about the matter.

 

Of course, it would be nice if it were not true; it would be nice if everyone were forgiven everything and all went to heaven and lived happily ever after for all eternity.  Such is where the modern trend of inclusive, let's-not-be-beastly-to-anyone thinking leads.  But it is not so.
 



#16 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 02:44 PM

> However, the toll houses are not dogma....<

 

This is becoming a problem.  Major clergy within ROCA have been claiming that it is dogma for around 10 years, and claiming that the bishops of ROCA have proclaimed it dogma in their official journal Tserkovnaya Zhizn'.   This is a major change from labelling it, as we have hitherto, a theologoumenon.  As dogma it moves us into another theological realm entirely.  I don't want to open up this can of worms because it will become a never ending thread.



#17 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 02:51 PM

>>>Of course, it would be nice if it were not true; it would be nice if everyone were forgiven everything and all went to heaven and lived happily ever after for all eternity.  Such is where the modern trend of inclusive, let's-not-be-beastly-to-anyone thinking leads.  But it is not so.<<<

 

I've never comprehended this approach.  The toll houses occupy a 24 hour period, on the third day after death.  There is some discomfort being surrounded by shrieking lying demons but it is soon over.  But this torment is infinitesimal in comparison to the eternal pains and dreadful  tortures of hell. 


Edited by Hieromonk Ambrose, 14 August 2013 - 02:54 PM.


#18 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 02:58 PM

Depends what happens to the soul as soon as the taxing is over!


Edited by Andreas Moran, 14 August 2013 - 02:59 PM.


#19 Hieromonk Ambrose

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 03:16 PM

Depends what happens to the soul as soon as the taxing is over!

 

Does "taxing"  mean "judging"?  We know from Scripture that the Father has given all judgement into the hands of His Son, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.  Neither angels nor demons have authority to judge a human soul nor consign it to suffering or bliss.  Only the Son may do that.



#20 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 03:41 PM

According to Pomazansky, it is not given to us to know how the particular judgment occurs after a man's death.






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